It never ceases to amaze me how social media can generate unexpected relationships.  A Seattle magazine followed a Minnesota environmental education organization on Twitter, which has led you to follow my journey to the summit of Gunung Rinjani on Lombok, Indonesia.

Lombok is an island vastly untouched by tourism, compared to neighboring Bali. However, I recommend exploring both islands if you are in the region. The sunrise trek up Mt. Batur on Bali is an excellent hike. Alas, that is a story for another time.

The night before conquering Rinjani, Muslim prayers echoed through the night as locals celebrated Ramadan. After an abrupt knock at the door, I wearily pulled myself from my modest room. What greeted me outside dwindled my sleepiness to nothing more than a distant memory. A long table presented itself as the first rays of sunlight peeked across rice paddies. It was piled high with fresh fruits, meats, eggs, rice and other goodies. After filling our bellies, we grabbed our belongings and hopped into the back of a makeshift pickup truck.

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©Sonja Mosley

The Rinjani Trek Centre near Senaru is nothing more than a small shack where hikers can celebrate their adventure and compare blisters. The first couple hours on the trail feel fairly easy to the experienced hiker. Once you leave the foliage, however, the experience changes dramatically. Rather than winding switchbacks, hikers push straight up the side of the volcano in full sunlight.

Socialization on the trail seems to drop off about two-thirds of the way up. Rolling hills with sporadic trees give way to sandy trails ready to do a number on any passing foot. The farther you venture, the steeper the trail becomes. The unfortunate aspect of this trek is the lack of scenery along the second half of the trail. As I started to wonder why I had been trudging up the side of a volcano for the last eight hours, I steadied my balance across steep rock faces and gasped at the sight of Sasak Anak Crater Lake. Finally, the fruits of my labor!

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©Sonja Mosley

Vivid, green waters surrounded a billowing plume of ash erupting from the active volcano. We assembled our tents on the rim overlooking the natural display of power and beauty. Above the clouds, we sipped warm tea and watched the fluffy blanket of white burn yellow and orange before fading into black night. As darkness set in, a display of stars untouched by city lights opened above me. After about fifteen, I lost track counting “shooting stars.” The volcano glowed red below and roared like a jet engine. Never have I felt so alive.

Difficulty: Difficult

Elevation: 12,224 feet

Best time of year: April – December (January – March for Monsoon season)

Amenities on the trail: none, although some guides create makeshift barriers at the summit

 Notes:

– Guides are required and a portion of fees supports education in local villages

– Mt. Rinjani is the second highest volcano in Indonesia

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©Sonja Mosley
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